Monday, May 16, 2011

Healthcare vs Sickness Care: Changing the Paradigm

Even with our great wealth and scientific sophistication, we Americans are far from healthy. Why is it that we spend so much on healthcare and health insurance but we generally feel unhealthy?

First and foremost we need to define what "health" and "Healthy" really mean. The World Health Organization, (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Actually, that is close to my definition of health: "The optimization of and harmony between one's mental, physical and spiritual state of being". Health is not simply lack of symptoms or not feeling sick; it's much more.

Why is there a "Healthcare Crisis" in America? The main reason is that we have a system of "sickness care " rather than "Healthcare" as defined by the WHO. Instead of teaching our patients to be healthy, we have traditionally waited for them to get sick, then intervene. Hence, our system is not one of health maintenance, but sickness intervention.

We hear the term "Wellness" so much lately that it has tended to lose it's significance. It's become ubiquitous; sort of like "New and Improved" or "Organic". What does it really mean? What does it mean to be "Healthy" in America? Do we know anymore?

Consider this: The World Health Organization, (WHO), decided last year to categorize and rank the healthiest nations. The rankings were based on quantifiable measurements, like life expectancy, chronic illness rates, infant mortalitiy and morbitity, etc.
So how do you think the USA ranked? The country with the largest and most sophisticated healthcare delivery system on Earth. The country with the most and best doctors on Earth. The nation with the most access to the latest pharmaceuticals and finest hospitals. According to CBS, this country that spends more per person on "healthcare" than most nations spend per capita on everything!

Guess we should be #1, right? Or maybe #2....No? How about 10th? 20th? 30th? Try 37th healthiest! That is correct: There are 37 countries healthier than the greatest country on Earth! Maybe we did forget what "Health" really means.

Chiropractic physicians, like myself, were one of the first groups to advocate the concept of health maintenance instead of crisis intervention in healthcare. Chiropractic pioneers, like Dr. Forrest Shaklee who engineered the field of food supplement "Vitamins"; Dr. Carlton Fredricks, mutimedia pioneer and advocate of preventive nutrition, and Dr. Jack LaLanne, fitness guru and nutritional and health advocate, all embraced the concept of "keeping yourself healthy before you get sick" long before it was popular. All were chastized in their time as "health nuts" because of America's preoccupation with the "sickness care" paradigm.

Thankfully times are changing, due mostly to public education and the realization that our current system of "sickness care" is not working to keep us healthy. More people are concerned with their nutrition, doing some regular exercise, and seeing their healthcare providers for check-ups before they get sick. More healthcare providers, like internists, dentists and other medical professionals are educating their patients on how to stay healthy and avoid getting ill.

If you are tired of sickness care and ready for health, join me and follow the chiropractic way of staying healthy by employing my 5 Factors of Good Health: you need proper nutrition, regular exercise, enough rest, a positive mental and spiritual attitude, and a source of regular holistic healthcare.

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